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The Internet Is An Unwelcoming Place to the Disabled

There’s already a blueprint for a more accessible internet. If only designers would learn it.
By Anne Quito•November 15, 2018

The internet can be a hostile space for 15% of the world’s population who experience some form of disability.

Try navigating a website as someone who is visually impaired: Turn on voice command on your computer (Command ? + F5 if you’re on a Mac, enable Navigator if you’re on a PC) and go to Amazon’s Kindle store. You’ll quickly find out that those who rely on voice commands can’t skip around and are doomed to listen to every notation about every page element before getting to the one piece of information they need.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Medi-Cal

Date Filed: 10/22/2018

On October 18, 2018, Disability Rights Advocates(DRA) and a coalition of blind advocates filed a class action lawsuit in Federal Court against the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and its county agents for failing to provide Medi-Cal notices in accessible formats, such as Braille.

The plaintiffs are the California Council of the Blind and three individuals; co-counsel is the Disability Rights and Education Fund and Disability Rights California. Read the complaint at the link below.

Feds Prod Universities to Address Website Accessibility

Universities are under legal pressure to make their websites fully accessible to people with disabilities, but is “fully” even possible? By Lindsay McKenzie
November 6, 2018

Hundreds of colleges and universities across the country are currently under investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights for failing to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities.

Universities that receive federal financial aid are required by law to make reasonable accommodations to ensure their web content is accessible to everyone, including, but not limited to, people who are blind, deaf or have limited mobility.

WPCampus is Pursuing an Independent Accessibility Audit of Gutenberg

Editors Note: As a member of the Accessibility Team that tested Gutenberg I can tell you at the time I tested it, it was garbage and totally inaccessible to me and my screen reader, if your company has any employees who use assistive devices, do not upgrade until they fix it .

?Sarah Gooding October 25, 2018

WPCampus is looking to hire a company to perform an accessibility audit of the Gutenberg editor. The organization is a community of more than 800 web professionals, educators, and others who work with WordPress in higher education. WPCampus director Rachel Cherry published a request for proposals detailing the organization’s specific concerns:

Surrey to Build World’s First Translation System for British Sign Language

Originally Published: 03 October 2018

The worlds first machine capable of turning British Sign Language (BSL) into written English is set to be built by the University of Surrey as part of a project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

BSL is a language in its own right, with its own grammar, and it is very different from English. BSL uses several parts of the body simultaneously to fully express a range phrases, ideas and emotions.

Deaf Canadians ‘At Risk’ in Times of National Emergency

Other countries have on-screen interpreters during news broadcasts Sherry Noik, CBC News, September 27, 2018.

When the next ice storm, wildfire or terror attack happens, Canadians who are deaf or hard of hearing will be in greater peril than others because most public notification systems are not accessible to them, experts say.

The Canadian Hearing Society estimates there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing and 340,000 Canadians who are deaf, including an estimated 11,000 who are deaf-blind. In policy and in practice, Canada lags behind other countries in ensuring their safety in an emergency.

How Technology is Assisting Seniors to ‘Age in Place’

October 1 2018

The latest statistics show that people are living longer in virtually every country in the world, with the over 60 age group growing faster than any other cohort.

The aging global population is altering many aspects of society, none more so than housing. When quizzed about their preferred living arrangements, the overwhelming majority of over 60’s (up to 90%) stated that they’d prefer to stay in their own home as they grow older known as ‘Aging in Place’. Yet the challenges brought on by deterioration in mental and physical health as we age, often make this difficult.

Senators Urge DOJ to Weigh in On ADA Impact on Websites

BY BEN JACOBSON ben.jacobson@thmedia.com
September 16, 2018

A pair of U.S. senators from Iowa say it’s unclear whether the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act transcends the physical world into the cyber realm.

Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Republicans, have asked U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to explore whether the 1990 law applies to website accessibility as well.

“For nearly 30 years, the ADA has protected countless individuals with disabilities, ensuring physical access to ‘any place of public accommodation,'” the senators wrote in a letter, co-authored by lawmakers from North Carolina, South Dakota, Idaho and Texas. “We support the ADA and all that it stands for.

Talking Gloves, Tactile Windows: New Tech Helps the Disabled

Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
Published Thursday, September 13, 2018

LONDON — Hadeel Ayoub slips a black glove onto her hand before beginning the swish of sign language that is meaningless to the untrained observer. Then she pushes a button on her wrist, and a small speaker relays the message drawn in the air: “Let’s Dance!”

“My dream is to give a voice to those who can’t speak,” says the 36-year-old inventor who is developing her BrightSign glove while working toward a Ph.D. in assistive technology at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Wegmans Adds a ‘Game-Changer’ for Visually Impaired Shopping

By: Jason Law
Updated: Aug 29, 2018

BOSTON – Grocery shopping can be very stressful. Navigating crowded aisles in a store full of people is frustrating, but if you’re blind, like Kim Charlson, then grocery shopping can be almost impossible.

A new tool, however, could revolutionize shopping for people who can’t see.

It’s an app that helps the visually impaired navigate the world and does it using the eyes in your smartphone.

“You come into a grocery store and you’re just bombarded with everything all around you,” Charlson explained. “It’s just not the place a blind person can get around independently without some kind of support.”

Apple Sued Over Claims Website is Inaccessible to Visually Impaired Users

By Malcolm Owen
Monday, August 20, 2018

Apple has become the target of a new lawsuit, one that claims the iPhone producer’s website is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not being fully accessible to blind or visually-impaired consumers, due to the way the website itself is coded.

Filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York on Sunday, the complaint from the plaintiff Himelda Mendez is said to be filed on behalf of other users in a similar accessibility situation. Apple is the sole defendant in the lawsuit.

Most Business Websites Are Sitting Ducks for ADA Suits, Experts Say

Disabled turn to courts for equal access to business, government websites By Ron Hurtibise
Contact Reporter
South Florida Sun Sentinel
July 22, 2018

Business owners who think that building a wheelchair ramp and grab bars in the restroom will ward off South Florida’s accessibility testers and their lawsuits need to fire up their computers, go to their websites and ask: “What’s missing?”

Lawsuits accusing businesses of failing to ensure that their websites are accessible to deaf, blind, or otherwise disabled customers have been on the rise in recent years and show no sign of tapering off, say attorneys who specialize in accessibility litigation.

4 Areas AI Makes the World More Accessible

AI technology such as voice interaction, image recognition and real-time captioning is starting to break down barriers for people with sensory, physical and cognitive disabilities.

In today’s world, so much relies on information. But this can make navigating everyday life even more of a barrier for people with a sensory, physical or cognitive impairment. Fortunately, the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology is helping people with disabilities both interact with the physical world and use digital devices and services.

Disability Legislation to Crack Down on Public Bodies in the UK

New legislation coming into force will mean that, as early as 2020, all public-sector organisations, including all councils will need to make sure that their digital services and online information are accessible for disabled people.

In October 2016, an EU Directive came in which states all public-sector bodies must have accessible digital services by 2020. This means that they can be used by people with disabilities and additional needs, for example using screen readers or other assistive technology. Brexit has meant that this Directive is now being transferred into UK law and will come into effect in its first phase in 2020. The move will ensure that the 20% of people in the UK who have a limiting illness or disability will be able to access public sector websites, software and mobile applications.

A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses

It’s the biggest health crisis you’ve never heard of. Doctors, philanthropists and companies are trying to solve it. By Andrew Jacobs
New York Times, Originally posted May 5, 2018

PANIPAT, India: Shivam Kumar’s failing eyesight was manageable at first. To better see the chalkboard, the 12-year-old moved to the front of the classroom, but in time, the indignities piled up.

Increasingly blurry vision forced him to give up flying kites and then cricket, after he was repeatedly whacked by balls he could no longer see. The constant squinting gave him headaches, and he came to dread walking home from school.

“Sometimes I don’t see a motorbike until it’s almost in my face,” he said.

CSUN 2018 Heralds The Year of Wearables–Unless It Doesn’t

Shelly Brisbin

When reporting on an event like the annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, it’s tempting to try to sum it up with a single narrative. This is my third year covering the trade show portion of CSUN. In addition to asking questions for AccessWorld, I was part of the Blind Bargains podcast team You’ll find links to some of our interviews at the link below.

A couple of years ago, Jamie Pauls wrote that CSUN and other accessibility-focused trade shows inaugurated the year of Braille. This year, a number of the products announced in 2016 are available to purchase, some have even been updated, and a few still aren’t available at all. Most of these items exemplify important improvements in function, price, or both.

Blind Woman Helps Guide Successful Voting-Rights Lawsuit Against State of Ohio

By: Rick Reitzel
Updated: Apr 12, 2018

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Ohio has succeeded in requiring Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office into providing accessible voting solutions for the blind.

NBC4 spoke with the woman behind the lawsuit.

Many people take voting for granted as just a simple procedure, but for those with disabilities like Shelbi Hindel, who has been blind since two, accessibility for voting has been a challenge.

“I still want to vote independently and I want to be able to have an option, like others have,” Hindel said.

She has been very mobile, raising two children to adulthood and working jobs for the state and federal governments.

Beyond Title III: Website Accessibility Lawsuits Filed Alleging Inaccessible Online Employment Applications

Seyfarth Synopsis: Plaintiffs who pursued numerous web accessibility actions under Title III of the ADA are now using website accessibility to test the limits of a different area of law employment law California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Over the past few years, we have frequently written about the proliferation of demand letters and lawsuits alleging that a business denied a usually blind or vision-impaired individual access to its goods and services because the business’ website was not accessible, in violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state laws. One firm that pursued many web accessibility actions under Title III and California’s Unruh Act (including a success in the Bags N’ Baggage case decided in plaintiff’s favor by a California state court) is now going after employers. In recent demand letters and lawsuits, they are alleging that employment websites are not accessible to blind job seekers, in violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California’s corollary to Title I of the ADA.

Why Financial Institutions Should Strive to Meet the Needs of Persons With Disabilities(PWD’s)

April 4 2018

There are over 56 million people living with disabilities in the United States, which makes them the biggest minority group in the nation. With the latest technological innovations, one would think that financial accessibility for the disabled would be a resolved matter in this day and age; however, that is not the case.

As reported by the FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households, “more than 5 million people with disabilities are currently unbanked or underbanked”. However, the good news is, financial institutions are becoming more and more aware of the reality of the situation, and are doing their best to create long-term business relationships with people with disabilities.

Apple Proposes Accessibility Emoji, Including Service Dog

Apple on Friday proposed a batch of new accessibility characters, including two different service dogs, according to Emojipedia. Angela Moscaritolo
March 23, 2018

New accessibility emoji could be headed to mobile devices next year.

Apple on Friday proposed a batch of at least nine new accessibility characters, according to Emojipedia. The lot includes two different service dogs, a person with a cane, an ear with a hearing aid, a person in an electric wheelchair, a person in a manual wheelchair, a prosthetic arm, and a prosthetic leg. Another newly proposed emoji has with an index finger on the cheek to represent the American Sign Language gesture for “deaf.”